Innovative programmes of woodland based activities for people with poor mental health.

By getting people back to nature, Branching Out helps to tackle the problems people face with anxiety, depression, isolation, and other long-term conditions. People overcome their problems together with support and teamwork out in the woods. Whether it’s through cooking food on a camp fire, building a shelter, walking, tai-chi or mindfulness, the natural landscape provides the perfect backdrop for encouraging an enhanced quality of life, engagement in social activities and peer to peer support.

ACT & Branching Out

Overseen by Scottish Forestry, Branching Out is a national partnership programme between ACT, NHS Highland and community organisations providing 12-week programmes of woodland activities on referral from mental health services. ACT’s role in the project has been to establish a network across Argyll and the Isles. This provision of an area-wide umbrella organisation is unique to Argyll and has proved extremely successful. Our approach is considered nationally as an example of best practice. The success of the programme has also generated demand from participants for a progression programme, "Moving On", which is under development. Some graduates from the Branching Out programme are now using their new skills to volunteer within their local communities.

ACT has supported community workers, mental health professionals and project managers across Argyll to achieve the qualifications required to become Branching Out leaders.  We have programmes running regularly in Mid-Argyll, Helensburgh, Oban, Cowal and Bute and are working with community mental health teams to extend our network to cover other areas.


Some of the activities during Branching Out sessions


Branching Out funding

Branching Out Argyll has been previously funded by Scottish Forestry (Forestry Commission Scotland), the Alliance's Transforming Self-Management Fund, Bute & Cowal Integrated Care Fund and Argyll & Bute Health and Wellbeing Funds and Argyll & Bute's Supporting Communities Fund.

In June 2019 we were awarded funding from the National Lottery Community Fund which will allow us to deliver Branching Out over 2 years. 

In September 2019 we were also awarded funding - to deliver 20 week Moving On programmes across Argyll & Bute for 1 year - from the Alliance's Self Management Fund.

In 2020 we are also supported for our core costs towards project delivery by The Robertson Trust and Scottish Forestry, and we are receiving funding from and also working with Dunlossit and Islay Community Trust to bring some taster sessions to Islay, including set up of a fully trained Islay delivery team as and when lockdown restrictions allow.

If you can, please support the continuation of Branching Out in Argyll by making a donation.

Contact Branching Out

To get involved with Branching Out or to find out more, please contact Sara at: [email protected]